Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.
Scientists accidentally created an enzyme that has an appetite for … plastic, the pervasive kind that's used to make bottles for water and soda, and which can normally take hundreds of years to degrade. [Read more about the mutant enzyme.]
Wormholes, or hypothetical tunnels through space-time that allow faster-than-light travel, could potentially leave dark, telltale imprints in the sky that might be seen with telescopes, a new study suggests.
These sci-fi staples arise from the equations of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Like the space-time around black holes, wormholes are regions where the fabric of space-time is so warped, light no longer travels in a straight line. [Read more about the potential.]
A Lost Planet?
An asteroid that slammed into the Sudan desert on Oct. 7, 2008, shot out lots of little space rocks holding a precious secret: diamonds that likely formed billions of years ago inside the embryo of a now-decimated planet.
The finding provides more information on the early days of our solar system about 4.4 billion years ago, when the zone near the sun had several planetary embryos. Many of them coalesced into the planets we see today. Others fell into the sun or were ejected into interstellar space. [Read more about the evidence.]
Drugs and Rewards
Readers of a certain age will know the reference: This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.
The simple PSA, put out by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in 1987, accompanied these words with an image of an egg — first intact, then sizzling on a frying pan. Gripping stuff — but what do drugs do to your brain, really? [Read more about the effects.]
Signs of Surgery
About 5,000 years ago, humans used crude stone tools to puncture a hole in a cow's head, making it the earliest known instance of skull surgery in an animal. [Read more about the procedure.]
The consciousness-altering drug LSD is best known for its bizarre visual effects: even a small dose of the drug can turn the flat walls of your living room into something out of Wonderland. Objects bend, colors blend and intricate patterns cast a shimmer on everything you see. But what would LSD feel like if you couldn't see? [Read more about the experience.]
The Silurian Hypothesis
Reptilian menaces called Silurians evolved on Earth before humankind — at least in the "Doctor Who" rendition of the universe. But science fiction aside, how would we know if some advanced civilization existed on our home planet millions of years before brainy humans showed up? [Read more about possibilities.]
A View of the Cosmos
Giant, energetic explosions create mushroom clouds on distant neutron stars, and a new NASA telescope can watch them rise, cool and collapse in real time.
NICER doesn't see the mushroom clouds in the same way people do. [Read more about the event.]
An Ancient Work
Scientists have deciphered what they describe as a 1,500-year-old 'magical papyrus' that was discovered near the pyramid of the Pharaoh Senwosret I.
The papyrus was uncovered during a 1934 expedition by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the papyrus is now at the Met but had never been deciphered or detailed in a scientific journal until now. [Read more about text.]
Finding the Positive in the Pain
It's difficult to describe the opioid epidemic as having anything resembling a "silver lining," but as deaths from opioid use have skyrocketed, one arguably positive outcome has been more organ donations from overdose victims, a new study suggests.
What's more, these organ donations have been successful, according to the study. The researchers noted that the outcomes from overdose victims' organ donations were as successful for transplant recipients as organ donations received from donors who died of trauma. [Read more about bright side.]